Took the kids to see Elf the Musical this weekend. The wife and I sprung it on them after a dinner in town. We also had access to backstage, which had the kids in awe. While it was a great night, there was a constant topic on my mind, which to be honest, wish it wasn't there.
It'll be four years in February 2016 since I lost my Dad unexpectedly. Don't worry, this won't be a post that makes you cry. I'm not going to wallow in the tears and bust out the Kleenex. This post is about coming to grips with the loss and how mourning is a journey with all types of ups and downs.
Yesterday I posted this to Facebook:
Today I went to go say hi to Pops. Crisp morning. Leaves rustling about. Sounds of kids playing soccer in the background. We talked about the kids and family. I shared a couple things that I thought he needed to know. We talked about how life is coming along for this nearly 42 year old Dad, trying to emulate all the good things he did for my brother and I when we were kids. I shed a couple little tears. Laughed a couple times. Touched his stone with a hand printed kiss and wished him luck. To those of you who knew my Dad, luck was using a nickel to scratch tickets, i.e. "scratchies." So, I left him a nickel. Good luck pops.
I was there for roughly 5 minutes. Not too long. I wasn't sobbing. I wasn't asking the question why. I was just having a chat with my old man. It felt good. It felt different. It felt as it should have felt four years later.
What I've learned over the years is that while I'm no longer a snotty-nosed mess when I think about my Dad, I still miss him but my sadness is a happy sad.
Let me explain:
- I don't allow the emotions to dominate
- I think about the fun times
- I wonder how life would be if he was still here
- I think about how I try to be a cool Dad as he was
- I ask him if I'm doing this Dad thing right
- I joke about the stupid things he did
- I remember all the little stories that only a few of us know about
- I remember him for who he was, flaws and all
- Mostly, I think about how thankful I was for the 37 or so years I called him Pops
I see other people post stuff online about how after 10, 20, 30 plus years of losing a loved one that they still feel the pain.
I am done with the fucking pain. It won't dominate me. The humor, memories, good times, sports moments and all the good shit is what I'll allow to fill my big head when I'm thinking of Pops.
Now, where is that nickel?
When I met my wife, it was at a copy machine. The exchange was nothing to write home about, but it was enough for me to want to get to know her.
Fast forward 18 years, a mortgage, two kids and a dog later, we are still the two same people who met while in was copying news clips (that was what we did back in the old PR days).
Why am I walking down memory lane? Well, recently, I've had a number of people compliment me on how "cute" a family we have. How awesome it is to see that family values still exist. How great it is that we are so involved in our kid's education. How much fun we seem to have together.
Yes, we have a good time together. Yes, my wife and I are involved in our kid's education. Yes, we have family values.
Now, is it something special? Do we have some secret sauce? Have we been granted wishes by a genie? Are we just lucky?
No. What we do have is patience, communication, understanding and a slew of other attributes that make us who we are. We also have our upbringings. Now, I come from a family that's littered with divorce. My wife comes from a family that the big D doesn't often happen. You combine those two and there's a keen sense of why marriage is important how it creates a tight bond between two people that is unwavering. Then you add two great kids into the mix, a crazy dog and you got yourself a family.
Are we perfect? Nope. Do we have those days? Yep. Is their arguing? Yep. Is there stress? Yep. Is there worrying? Yep.
There are also great days, good laughs, inside jokes and a boat load of wonderful memories.
So, are we that family? I guess we are, but I think we are just the Martelli's and I wouldn't want it any other way.
This post about things Dads should do for their daughters hit my FB stream this morning. These are great:
"Encourage her to do the things that scare her, because you'll always have her back.
Show her the skills that you know well.
If you lead by example, you won't need to scare the bad boys away. She'll want better."
There are 22 other really good ones in the post. There's a few missing from my perspective:
- Laugh and laugh hard. Nothing better than sharing a belly busting laughs with your girls.
- Explore food and cooking -- not to cook for others but more so to teach her how to be creative.
- Foster her inquisitive side. Asking questions is always a good thing no matter how tough they are to ask.
- Be confident even when the situation doesn't make you feel like you are. Confidence will carry you a long way in life.
- Don't follow, lead, but also position others to lead.
- Mentor your sister and friends. Help them.
- Love unconditionally but don't let your easiness to trust people get in the way of making good decisions.
- Make the hard decisions when no one else will.
- Follow your heart and do what's best for you and your family. You can't go wrong by following that little bit of advice.
Lastly, love your Dad all the time. We're idiots, but at our core, we're good dudes who love you.
October is a special time in our family's lives. The wife and I celebrate our anniversary, which is also our youngest' bday. We also are a big Halloween family, love apple picking, pumpkin picking, visiting farms, peeping leaves and hanging outside in hoodies in temps that are super comfy.
It is always around this time of year that I am reminded of my center.
I define a center by whatever in this world brings you back to who you are and who you always will be. No matter what happens in life, what you do, what happens to you, what others say, thibk or do, it's the center that stays true.
For me, it's family. That's my center and it always will be.
You're probably thinking, "Oh boy, what's this post going to be about?" Or, "This is quite the departure from the content he usually writes on his blog." Don't worry. I'm not becoming a holy roller on your, but I have found religion in a way that suits me.
It snowed a ton in the Northeast over the past 24 hours. The kids and wife wanted to build Olaf. Well, the wife did. It's a decent version, though I preferred the Bruschi version she did a few years back.
I have much to be thankful for after a pretty decent year. While 2012 would be described as devasting, 2013 would be described as healing. In 2014, I'm looking to do a number of things. No big promises here. No big resolutions. Just some simple thinking about how to make my life even more enjoyable than it is right now.
Kids painted seashells. This is what I painted on mine.
My kids raised over $1,000 for kids cancer research last year. They are at it again and want to beat their record. They can't do it alone. They need your help. So cool off, drink up and help kids beat cancer!!!